From cell to subject: The rhetoric of freud's phylogenetic imagination in Beyond the Pleasure Principle
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The aim of this thesis, firstly, is to identify the dominate scholarly reactions to the biological writing of Sigmund Freud, particularly regarding his 1920 text, Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Considering the cluster of biological observations therein, now infamous for their anachronism, this study does not offer an index of Freud's scientific accuracy. Rather, I seek to explore the precarious relationship between two areas of investigation found in Beyond: the individual psyche and the development of the organism. Although psychoanalysis is often portrayed as primarily concerned with conflicts local to an individual's history, Freud so often portrays the tensions between the individual and his or her species as similarly important to human pathology, a notion explored in the first chapter. In the following chapter, I propose that Freud's biological imagination can be seen as less of a tangent to psychoanalytic theory once one identifies moments of its logical priority and originality. Some concepts in Freud's intellectual arsenal appear preconfigured by biological conjecture or fancy such as traumatic neurosis, which has a distinct evolutionary dilemma at the core of its formulization. Lastly, the trajectory of Freud's scientific speculation in Beyond is, issuing from its very design, intended for the enquiry of others. It is in this respect that I interrogate an ultimatum: is Freudian energetics merely an obscure metaphor to be interpreted or, as Jacques Lacan seems to suggest, a component of a theory of metaphoricity itself?